Friday, 20 February 2015

50 Shades of Libertarian

OK,this is a tenuous link, but it is colourful. And chocolate.
Every now and then Twitter stops being a space for endless robotic book promos, pictures of cute animals and ''life enhancing messages'' (I always like to add ''and cake'' at the end of them). Such a state was achieved last Wednesday, when I posed the question: 'what exactly IS a Libertarian?

I've noticed the word appearing in Twitter biographies with increasing frequency, and being used copiously as a hashtag, but the variety of ways in which it is used and the spectrum of people using it is confusing. Also, I do like to poke the complacently smug with a stick every now and then, and I thought it might generate a good debate.

There is an old Jewish saying that goes: 'Wherever there are two rabbis gathered, there are three opinions'. It was very applicable to what followed. Libertarianism, said one, is the right of people to live where they want, in whatever country. Libertarianism, said another, means government looking after our borders and stopping people from living wherever they want. Libertarians, I was told, believe in smaller state control. Libertarians, I learned, are pro-military and believe we should spend far more on defence.

You get the picture?

As Humpty-Dumpty said in Alice Through The Looking Glass: 'Words mean whatever I want them to mean.' One wise Twitter egg threw into the mix that Libertarian was a portmanteau word, constructed from Liberty and Contrarian, which made sense in that it explained why everybody was automatically taking the opposite point of view from the person to whom they were talking.

By the end of my Twitter time, I'd met anarcho-communist Libertarians and hard-right capitalist Libertarians. I'd met Tory Libertarians who were hiding their true colours behind a useful tag, and a socialist Libertarian who wanted to declare Yorkshire an independent state.

The debate also attracted one of the ubiquitous 'JesuisCharlie' brigade, who planted his soapbox down firmly and proceeded to expound on 'Libertarians who were closet Racists'. We tacitly let him get on with it, passing him biscuits at intervals.**

So am I any the wiser? Nope. However I am very amused by the way some people stick a little understood concept that is open to very divergent interpretations into their Twitter biography or at the end of a tweet to make themselves sound clever and zeitgeisty.

John Stuart Mill ....... anybody?


** Similarly the very nice person who thought we were discussing Librarians - it takes all sorts to make Twitter.


23 comments:

  1. Definitely John Stuart Mill, and maybe with a dose of Rousseau! All these people with opinions, and so convinced they're the ones who have got it right. But how many every listen to each other? Finding common ground - like agreement over definitions - involves listening, and discussion, and thinking. Not just table-thumping.

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  2. At least it was reasonably civilized. I don't allow rudeness on my timeline. Just confirmed exactly what I thought ..nobody don't know nuffink!

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  3. People! *sigh*...Wearing words to compensate for their lack of intellect, with little, if any, understanding of their meaning!...*rolls eye*...Ahh well, there's nowt as combobulistimustificated as folk, eh?...

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    1. hahah ... yep.... and do they listen to us?

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  4. Being a pedant, I had to know, so I resorted to my trusty Chambers, who tells me "a believer in free-will, one who believes in the maximum amount of freedom of thought, behaviour, etc." so that makes me one, I think (therefore I am?)

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    1. according to my experience, anybody and everybody is one..which kind of negates the concept...

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  5. glad I'm not the only one then... I was confused before you started!

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    1. I'm still confused..and I debated with them

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  6. Ok again. Hence I read Twitter!!!!
    Evelyn

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  7. ..taking liberties re libertarianism? whodda thunk?

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    Replies
    1. Quite. Shows how an original concept gets diluted and changed over the years. Bit like honesty and politicians...

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  8. This is all very heavy for my sleepy Saturday brain. My bio says I'm an obsessive worrier. I'm obviously not esoteric enough.

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  9. Love it - I haven't noticed this Twitter bio buzzword yet; at least 'eclectic' is dying out. So many seemed to think it meant 'weird and zany'. I'm hoping that the coffee/writing thing will go the same way, and ditto mediapreneur, mompreneur, etc. Grrrrr to word bandwagons!

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    1. I mix with a lot of pseudo-political intellectuals ..ie. Pretentious nanas, so I see it a lot. Don't worry, you're missing nothing.

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    2. "Weird and zany"... isn't that closer to "eccentric" than "eclectic"?

      I thought eclectic meant widely varied, as in tastes. Eccentric- in practice anyways- I thought was used for wealthy or powerful folk that people didn't dare call weird or bizarre, because, you know, money.

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    3. It does indeed. Twitter buzzwords are used all over the place, wrongly, as Carol explores in this post!

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    4. see comment at end.....and thanks for dropping by.

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  10. For Americans, "Libertarian" has a particular political to-the-right-of-right connotation. Love this post!

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    1. I know..I had one on the debate..muddying the waters beautifully!

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  11. Hmmmmm..... I'm not so much a Libertarian but possibly have a slightly Libertarianistic outlook, on some things, sometimes. Maybe.

    I remember Jonathan Miller in Beyond the Fringe saying he wasn't a Jew, but was Jewish!

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  12. Anything means whatever you want it to mean in the crazy world of social media. And I mean that.

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  13. I'm glad you cleared that up Carol.

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